How to get your heavy vehicle license in the UK

You are ready to start your career as an HGV or bus driver. You have researched the role and you think it will match your lifestyle. The on-the-road nature of this job may make it appealing to you. Or you may prefer it because it’s accompanied by job security. Now, you want to get qualified for it.

Getting a license is an essential first step toward getting your desired job. Here are all the details for getting an HGV license in the UK.

Other than using the license for a professional bus or coach driving career, you will also need it to drive your motorhome in the UK. So, if you are planning to get a motorhome, delay the plan for some time so you can navigate the licensing process.

Note that getting the license is more than just knowing the driving skill, you also need to understand the vehicle and the basics of maintaining it and keeping it road worthy.


Before you start the process of getting an HGV license, you need a full car driving license and should be older than 18.

Note that the license should be valid for driving in the UK. If your license is from another country, you should get it exchanged for a UK license. Moreover, you need to prove that you are a normally resident in the country by completing 185 days of stay here.

If you haven’t earned your driving license, get it before starting the HGV licensing process. Start with getting your learner’s permit and preparing for the HGV theory test. Use recommended study material, online study tools, and your understanding from driving training to prepare for this test. After you have passed the driving theory test, you will start practicing the driving skill under the supervision of a qualified instructor before taking the driving test.

If you are licensed for car driving in the UK, it means that you enjoy sound health. You may still need another health screening for the HGV license.

Although some employers want their HGV drivers to be at least 21 years old, this is not a licensing requirement and you can start the process after your eighteenth birthday.

Select the License Category

You will need to apply for the relevant category to get a provisional license, training, and tests. HGV licenses are grouped under category C. You can select from the categories C, C1, C1+E, and C+E depending on the weight of the vehicle you will drive.

Applying for a Provisional HGV license

Just like the car driving licensing process, a professional license starts with a provisional license. This license allows you to drive on highways under the supervision of a qualified HGV instructor.

Note that the UK allows you to get the provisional license even before you have attempted the HGV theory test or driving test. That’s because the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) requires you to get the training before you can attempt the theory test.

Get Training and Appear for the Test

The next step is to practice driving the relevant vehicle. The vehicle needs to have dual controls to allow for supervision. Once you have acquired the training, you need to appear for the test. The driving test for an HGV license has two parts: theoretical and practical.

In the first section of this test, you will be presented with multiple-choice questions about road safety and traffic rules. In the second section, you need to present your driving skills after getting into the vehicle and driving.

Get a Certificate of Professional Competency (CPC)

On successful completion of these tests, you need to advance to a CPC certificate by proving your training and attempting four more tests. These tests will include a theory test, case study-based analysis, driving test, and practical demonstration of your driving skills.

If you pass all these tests and your training experience is sufficient, the licensing agency will certify you allowing you to begin your HGV driving career.

Post Certificate Training Requirements

You can get a job as a bus or HGV driver as soon as you complete your certification requirements. But keep in mind that this training will recur every five years. To be exact, the licensing agency requires professional drivers to complete 35 hours of training every five years.

Note that the training requirement will increase when you are older than 65 years. After that age, you need to put in 35 hours of training every year.

Take Away

You cannot drive a heavy vehicle with your regular car driving license in the UK. If you are looking to build a professional driving career or want to own a motorhome in the country, you need to get an HGV license.

The process of an HGV license takes a car driving license as a prerequisite. After getting a complete driving license, you apply for a provisional HGV license and using it, start practicing the driving skill for these vehicles. Later, you have to attempt the tests and proceed to get the certificate of professional competence (CPC).

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